Monacan High School (North Chesterfield, VA)
Classification: Class 4, Region B
2017-18 Record: 15-10
Continuing the Success
Varsity head coach RJ Spelsberg and the Chiefs of Monacan High School definitely have had a good ride for the last few seasons. In 2016, they took home the VHSL 4A state crown. During the following two seasons, Spelsberg’s group made deep playoff runs to the state quarterfinals; both seasons. Fast forward to today and the group has their sights on obtaining nothing less. Winning another state championships is firm in each player and coach’s mind. The Chiefs know it will not come easy, especially considering they lost two all-state guards from last season to graduation. Regardless, Spelsberg and his staff have done an exceptional job of instilling a winning and competitive mindset within the players, both returners and hopeful newcomers.
Youth will undoubtedly make up the majority of the varsity group for this season. The team only returns one senior, Jonathan Mondrey ’19, a three-year veteran. Although Monacan must find a way to work around their lack of experience, the enormous amount of talent within their young players should excite their fans the most. It blew me away to see how advanced the young guys played during my visit. Honestly, from what I’ve seen so far, the Chiefs have some of the best collective talent in the area. To imagine how they can potentially look two years from now is scary. Their promise should give the North Chesterfield area a heads-up this season once the games start rolling. Obviously, there’s no guarantee that everything will fall in line right from the start, but the talent, spirit, and surprising maturity within the youthful bunch proves indisputable.
As I mentioned earlier, the varsity squad will not return a lot of experience within their roster. Nonetheless, the players, whether it be returners or non-returners, displayed great chemistry during my visit. It may be understating to say they had great chemistry; the team knows how to share the ball and make decisions similar to college hoopers. Again, this mainly impresses due to the notion of their youth. The Chiefs will cause opponents distress if they can use their IQ to create effective ball movement in half-court settings, but I also found this facet interesting since the team has a handful of talented scorers. Simply put, Spelsberg may have several guys who can put the ball in the basket at an above-average rate. When looking at teams full of scorers, one does not typically expect to see unselfish play consistently. Sometimes guys just want to take over and show their capabilities. Monacan has a chance to be an exception, however, and will succeed in separating themselves from the pack if they can carry their mature playing style into the season.
Who to Watch:
With still a few weeks left until tryouts, the roster remains unofficial. Still, several guys stood out in full-court runs during my spectating, whom all I feel can make big contributions once they fill a roster spot.
Cliff Robinson ‘20
Robinson returns two inches taller from last season, now standing at 6’6.” The coaching staff has high hopes that he’ll continue to grow; Robinson’s dad stands over 7’0.” In addition to his growth spurt, the junior wing has improved his perimeter skills and offensive aggression tremendously. He has all the tools to become a deadly scorer for the Chiefs this season with his ability to shoot the ball with range, create just enough space to launch shots off, and cover ground easily with his length. His ball-handling and security isn’t great yet but it works well enough for him to get to preferred spots. Excited about Robinson’s ongoing development, Spelsberg made a neat comparison to another Chesterfield native, Devin Robinson, the former Florida standout who currently plays for the Washington Wizards. With his competitive mentality (he hit more game winners than anybody else during pickup games), I definitely expect a breakout season for the humble junior. He has all of the tools to soon become a touted recruit.
Kaleb Bingham ‘21
Looking to make his varsity debut next month, Bingham had one of the best all-around showing in the gym last week. At 6’4,” he can play either as a two-guard or wing and showed his impressive ball-handling skills. His handle makes him a threat from anywhere on the floor, as he does a great job of scanning the floor and finding spaces to attack and finish with either hand. Whenever he has the ball, Bingham becomes a big-time playmaker; he doesn’t need much help to get a bucket on his own. His jump-shot appeared most comfortable in the mid-range area but he can get hot from three-point territory also. Like Robinson, Bingham cashed in a few of his own game-winners throughout the night with extreme confidence. His feel for the game looks anything but that of a sophomore. I definitely have him on my list of varsity newcomers to keep an eye on for this upcoming season. College coaches should too.
Joe Bamisile ‘20
A new face for the Chiefs this season, the 6’3” guard seemed more than comfortable with the Monacan family. In all, Bamisile probably had the best day out of the crew (Bingham comes in as a close second!) I first saw Bamisile three years ago during his summer play and could tell right away he would soon blow up as a sought-out prospect. Offensively, he has few holes in his game. He controls the ball, hits opponents with step-backs to knock down jumpers, finds others, and gets to the rim at his own speed. He doesn’t play at a really fast pace yet opposing players could not stop him from doing whatever and whenever he wanted to. The game comes so effortlessly for him, a bit more than most players his age. Bamisile currently holds offers from VCU, Richmond, and Old Dominion, while having heard from many other Division I programs. Coming off of a stellar summer with Team Parsons of the Adidas Circuit, do not be surprised if we see him have a killer season in North Chesterfield this winter.
Walker Posey ‘20
The team’s 5’11” floor general has toughness that will more than likely feed off on his teammates once the balls start rolling. Posey’s command helps dictate the Chiefs’ impressive offense in the players knowing how to find each other all over the court. His vision clearly stood out in his pitch-ahead passes once the ball was inbounded. Furthermore, he showed the ability to find others near the rim once he crosses the half-court line. The pick and roll can serve as Posey’s bread and butter as long as he maintains assertiveness. His shot isn’t the quickest but Posey’s recognition of locating to open spots when off the ball can result in him going on quick offensive spurts. He’s a stringent point guard with a LOT of poise; something the team should feel confident about. Defense should now be his main area of focus.
Jonathan Mondrey ‘19
The lone senior returns as a very valuable piece when looking at the versatility he brings to the roster. Mondrey stands at 6’3” and has had to play inside during his time with the Chiefs. While pretty undersized, he has the competitiveness and IQ to prevent scoring and know how to take advantage of his own opportunities. I think Mondrey has a chance to become the team’s defensive anchor, which I’m confident he would likely embrace as a veteran leader. Offensively, he has a fairly complete game that allows him to do some damage at all three levels on the floor. He plays strong to score inside but can use his slick ball control to make moves toward the rim and knock down pull-up jumpers. Three-point shooting didn’t appear in his interest but he still can hurt defenders in a variety of ways. He has some true grit that should suit him well in his final season. More college interest should start flowing his way.
Nobody can deny the overall talent of Monacan’s athletes. While talent only gets one so far, I could sense a firm focus within the players, which ultimately should aid in getting them over any obstacles that may surface in the incoming months. There’s just something special about the young talent I saw on the court. Well, for one, they don’t play ANYTHING like their age implies. The combination of talent, focus, toughness, and competitive drive should make them tough to beat in their region; a trip back to the state tournament remains clear in the picture. Nevertheless, the Chiefs cannot afford to think too far ahead. As Spelsberg noted, a lot of work is still to be done.
Chesterfield County, are you ready for the Chiefs?!